Football News

Mario Balotelli’s next club all but confirmed as former Golden Boy holds 2022 World Cup dreams

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:44, 6 July 2021

Mario Balotelli is set to join Turkish club Adana Demirspor this summer, according to the club’s chairman.

The Italian, who rose to prominence with Inter Milan and won the Golden Boy award in 2010, has become something of a journeyman in recent years, representing six clubs since leaving Manchester City in 2013.

During Inter Milan’s 2009/10 season, Balotelli played 40 times across all competitions, scoring 11 goals and recording nine assists as the Nerazzurri claimed the Treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

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His performances earned Balotelli, 20 at the time, a £22.5m move to Man City as they looked to build a team to win the Premier League title and by December the Golden Boy award was his. The Italian, who had finished sixth in 2008 and fourth in 2009, pipped Jack Wilshere to the trophy while insisting he didn’t know who the Arsenal man was.

Balotelli would go on to stay at Man City for three years, playing 54 times in the Premier League, scoring 20 goals and recording one assist – famously setting up Sergio Aguero for that title-winning goal in 2012.

Following on from that, Balotelli starred as Italy reached the final of Euro 2012 including a brace in the 2-1 semi-final win over Germany which included his now-iconic muscle celebration. But Balotelli’s career appears to have peaked there, as he has struggled for form since leaving Man City in 2013 including back in the Premier League with Liverpool.

After spells with AC Milan, Nice, Marseille and Brescia, Balotelli joined Monza on a six-month deal in December and played 14 times for the Italian club in Serie B. But he now looks set to play in his fourth country, taking on the Turkish Super Lig with newly-promoted side Adana Demirspor.

“The negotiation with Mario Balotelli is 85% [complete],” Adana chairman Murat Sancak told A Spor. “He contacted us and told us he wanted to come here. He will arrive in Turkey next week.

“Balotelli wants to come here to go to the World Cup. The sponsor will pay half of his salary.

“They say that Balotelli is crazy but nobody has to worry: We are from Adana and we will be able to manage him.”

After helping Italy to the Euro 2012 final, Balotelli continued to be a part of the squad for the Confederations Cup in 2013 and 2014 World Cup but fell out of favour following the latter, part of widespread changes as the Azzurri bowed out of the group stages with just one win to their name – finishing third behind Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Since being substituted at half-time in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in Brazil, Balotelli has played just three times for Italy, making a hat-trick of appearances over the summer of 2018 as Roberto Mancini’s men were used as a warm up opponent for Saudi Arabia and France ahead of the World Cup, scoring against the former. Balotelli’s final appearance came in September 2018 in the Nations League, starting in a 1-1 draw with Poland, and he has had to watch on as the nation have stormed their way to the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

In Balotelli’s place, Italy have been utilising Ciro Immobile as their starting striker with Andrea Belotti back up, with the Lazio man scoring two goals at Euro 2020 so far.

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